BOGOTA, Colombia 

Cuba’s president on Monday highlighted the success of the country’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate Abdala, which the government says is 92.28% effective against the virus. 

“Hit by two pandemics [COVID-19 and the US blockade], our scientists at the Finlay Institute and the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biology [CIGB] have jumped over all the hurdles and given us two very effective vaccines: #SOBERANA02 and #Abdala,” Miguel Diaz-Canel, who is also first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, said on Twitter.

With these preliminary results, the vaccine would exceed the 50% efficacy threshold set by the World Health Organization (WHO) to consider vaccines for emergency authorization.

The announcement comes two days after state-run biopharmaceutical corporation BioCubaFarma said the vaccine candidate SOBERANA 02 has shown 62% efficacy with just two of its three doses.

If the success of the Abdala vaccine is proven, Cuba would be the first Latin American country to develop and manufacture its own vaccine against COVID-19.

The island, which has a long experience in developing vaccines, is one of the few in the region that has not begun vaccinating its population against the coronavirus, as it is waiting for the country’s Center for State Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices to grant emergency use authorization to its homegrown vaccines.

Since 2017, the US government has imposed 240 measures aimed at tightening the 60-year blockade of Cuba, many of which were introduced during the pandemic, which has hindered the country’s access to medical supplies to produce local vaccines.

About 1.7 million people are expected to be immunized in the coming weeks.

The Caribbean nation could become an important supplier to other countries in the region. Several countries including Venezuela, Argentina and Mexico have expressed an interest in buying Cuba’s vaccines.

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